Fragments of life and death : the biography of grinding and polishing stones found in long barrows at the Almhov burial site

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The burial and gathering site Almhov was discovered as a result of large-scale archaeological excavations in southern Sweden revealing the remains of five long barrows, two dolmens and a large number of pits, rich in finds. Given the multitude of activities performed at the site including, for example, monument-building, pit-digging, burying, feasting and axe-manufacturing, the site can serve as an example ofthe complexity of large Early Neolithic gathering places. The activities, as well as the physical monuments and pits, can be interpreted as an expression of how Early Neolithic man made sense of the changing world brought about by the Neolithization. Different perspectives as well as archaeological remains of various kinds offer different narratives of this on-going process. Artefacts interpreted as polishing and grinding stones were by far the most common type of ground stone artefacts found at Almhov, and the interesting contexts in which they were discovered,as well as their sheer number, poses a variety of questions about their presence at Almhov. How can we, for example, make these artefacts tell us something about the people in the area and the Neolithic way of life? This article focuses on the grinding and polishing stones found in two of the long barrows on Almhov, and uses them as the basis of a case study of how a biographical approach can be utilized as a method of categorizing and interpreting ground stone artefacts. Why, for example, were pieces of grinding stones placed in connection with the façade of one of the long barrows? Why were grinding stones, broken in half, put into graves? This paper suggests that the tools represented the novelty of making monuments and that putting them together with the dead could have been a way of mediating new practices with reference to the past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLandscapes, histories and societies in the Northern European Neolithic
EditorsMartin Furholt, Martin Hinz, Doris Mischka, Gordon Noble, Deborah Olausson
PublisherInstitut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der CAU Kiel / Habelt
VolumeFrühe Monumentalität und soziale Differenzierung 4
ISBN (Print)978-3-7749-3882-3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

VolumeFrühe Monumentalität und soziale Differenzierung 4

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology

Free keywords

  • Long barrows
  • Early Neolithic period
  • grinding stones
  • ground stone artefacts
  • biographical perspective


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